Page 1 of 2 Next >> By the mid 1950s, Maserati's rivals fielded ever larger engined sports cars, gradually leaving the 300S out-powered. Drastic measures were needed as the three litre, straight six engine was already at its dimensional limits. Work had already been started on an all-new 4.5 litre V8 but the development of the complicated engine was fraught with delays. As a stop-gap measure, the Maserati engineers decided to turn the 3.5 litre straight six destined for the upcoming 3500 GT road car into a racing engine.
In street trim, the 3500 GT was rated at around 220 bhp and by the time the competition department had worked their magic, this was up to 290 bhp. The modifications were relatively straightforward and consisted of the addition of a second magneto for twin-spark injection, a dry-sump lubrication system and larger 45 DCO3 Weber carburettors. Mated to a five-speed gearbox, the production-derived engine was mounted in a tubular steel frame. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front and a DeDion axle at the rear. Like all Maserati competition cars of the day, the new Tipo 53, or '350S' was clothed by Fantuzzi.
The first example was ready in time for the 1956 Mille Miglia where it was entered for defending champions Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson. Although very reliable thanks to its production engine, the 350S also proved more than a handful to drive and Moss eventually crashed out. In order to find the cause for the unwieldy behaviour, the 350S was submitted to extensive testing at Monza. Here it actually proved slower than the less powerful but much better sorted 300S. The car used by Moss was fitted with the V8 engine and became the 450S prototype, while the second 350S had its gearbox moved to the rear axle but it was not raced again. Page 1 of 2 Next >>